Willet Tringa semipalmata

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Large, stocky shorebird with a distinctive black-and-white wing pattern. Larger than Greater Yellowlegs, smaller than godwits. Overall grayish, with messy dark patterning in breeding plumage. Bill is straight and rather thick, with a paler base. Legs are grayish. Two distinct subspecies. “Eastern” Willet is smaller, darker, browner, shorter-billed, shorter-legged, and strictly coastal. Breeds in saltmarshes from Atlantic Canada to the Gulf of Mexico; migrates early, mostly departing the U.S. in August, and winters almost exclusively on the northern coast of South America. Especially likely to be seen foraging on extensive mudflats, sometimes in flocks. “Western” Willet is larger, paler, grayer, longer-billed, and longer-legged, giving it a more godwitlike appearance. Breeds in marshy grasslands in the Interior West; winters much further north than “Eastern” Willet, from both coasts of the U.S. to as far south as Chile. Especially likely to be seen on beaches.



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